Report: Facebook building photo messaging app to rival Snapchat

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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is testing a new photo messaging application closely resembling the fast-growing Snapchat service, sources familiar with the project told All Things D.

Snapchat--introduced for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS in Sept. 2011 and ported to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android this fall--enables users to capture photos (a.k.a. "snaps") with their smartphone, overlay a text message and transmit the image to friends. The photo is available to the recipient for a pre-determined viewing period between just one and 10 seconds, and then it is permanently deleted from both smartphones and from Snapchat's servers. Users are now exchanging more than 1,000 photos per second, up from 231 snaps per second in October and 25 per second in May.

Insiders say the forthcoming Facebook photo messaging app will offer similar functionality to Snapchat, enabling users to send and receive images that are only available for a brief period of time. The currently unnamed service, expected to reach consumers by the end of 2012, will be available as a standalone mobile app, following on the heels of Facebook's Messenger and Camera apps. It is unclear how or even if the photo messaging service will integrate with Instagram, the photo editing and filtering app Facebook acquired earlier this year for $715 million.

Facebook has not responded to requests for comment. "We haven't heard anything from [Facebook co-founder and CEO] Mark [Zuckerberg] about a Snapchat clone," Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel said in an email to All Things D. "We're big fans of Instagram and the Facebook platform, and we look forward to watching Mark continue to innovate and grow his company."

Snapchat also continues to grow, and last week added video messaging capabilities to its iOS app. GigaOM reports Snapchat is currently raising around $8 million in venture financing, valuing the startup at roughly $50 million.

For more:
- read this All Things D article
- read this GigaOM article

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